Oil giant’s £8.3m annual bill is Scotland’s biggest business rates charge –more than Faslane



Tim Bunker
Tim Bunker

A new report has revealed the highest business rate paid on any individual property in Scotland.

According to the research by property firm Ryden, oil major BP pays £8.3 million in business rates for its Sullom Voe oil terminal on Shetland to top the list.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence foots the second highest bill for its naval base at Faslane, with annual rates totaling £6m.

Edinburgh and Glasgow airports are also among the top payers, with bills amounting to £5.8m and £4.9m respectively.

The figures come as businesses await news of a planned review of the heavily-criticised rates system in both Scotland and England.

Tim Bunker, a partner at Ryden, said it remained to be seen whether politicians will deliver on pre-election promises over business rates.

He said: “The Scottish Government raises £2.6 billion annually from commercial rates, which have low collection costs, meaning it will be extremely difficult to find a suitable and fair alternative.

“If we look at income from business rates and council tax, the figures sit at around £2.6bn and £2.55bn respectively. Talks of overhauling the rates system to assist businesses while maintaining fiscal neutrality mean that the substantial revenues lost through rates would have to be passed from business to the public. I very much doubt that most people would accept – or could afford – their council tax bill being doubled.”

Rates bills are calculated using rents at a particular period in time. Firms are paying rates based on rents in 2008 because the five-yearly rating revaluation process which sets bills was postponed until 2017.

Mr Bunker added: “Due to the recession and the effect on rents, many businesses would have seen their rates bill decrease this year, had the revaluation gone ahead. The question now is that when 2017 comes around, will bills reduce enough?

“There has been much debate about the effect on the small businesses of the current commercial rates burden, but many of the largest ratepayers are often overlooked.”